The cargo plane landed with a thud on the dirt runway, miles away from the tourist destination of Montego Bay. Malik jostled in his seat, but his expression didn’t change. He was destroying his life for a friend. He could still see the look on Tisha’s face when announced he was leaving and refused to tell her where he was going, why he was going, and how long he would be gone. The words that spewed from her mouth were meant to hurt, and they did. His response was clichéd.
“Trust me, baby,” he said. Even he didn’t believe the words when he said them.
The plane taxied to a stop before a tin building. Malik gathered his things, then walked toward the cabin. The pilot, a scruffy-looking red-faced German, looked back at him with a sly smile.
“Should I wait?” he asked.
“No. I have another ride,” Malik replied.
“All you have to do is make it worth my while,” the man said with a wink.
Malik sneered. “If I see your plane here five minutes after I leave, I’ll come back and kill you with my bare hands.”
He reached into the duffle, took out a stack, then tossed it at the pilot.
He went to the rear of the plane and climbed out. The pilot was off the ground and gaining altitude before Malik reached the shed.
“I’ll be taking that from you now,” someone said.
Three men emerged from behind the shed, guns in their hands. They wore jeans and T-shirts, their heads crowned with dreads. The man in the middle, a short, wide man with bulging muscles, stepped toward them.
“Drop the bag and put your hands behind your back,’ he ordered.
“This is a shitty way to treat a friend,” Malik remarked as he did what he was told.
“You’re Bryce’s friend, not mine,” the man replied.
One of the other men stepped behind him and tied his hands together. The other came with a blindfold.
“Come on,” Malik said. “Really?”
“Shut your mouth,” the short man said. The lanky man tied the black fabric over his eyes. They led him to a vehicle, then hoisted him into the back. He lay on a bed of straw.
Malik didn’t know exactly where he was, but he knew which direction they traveled. He was trained to know such things, but his captors didn’t know. They headed west, following a winding road that climbed into the highlands. They were either headed to Maroon country or somewhere near. Bryce was making a good try at not being found.
The truck halted after two hours. Malik heard the truck door clang.
“C’mon, boy,” the short man said. “My cousin been waiting for you.”
Malik slid to the edge of the truck and was helped to the ground. His hands were freed and his blindfold removed. He stood in the middle of a camp surrounded by marijuana fields. There were four buildings, one serving as some type of office while the others were warehouses for the illicit harvest.
“Brudda, I ain’t never been happier to see you!”
Bryce ran to him from the office and they bear-hugged.
“I didn’t think you was gonna come,” he said.
“I may have lost my marriage over you,” Malik said. “But we’re boys, so I’m here.”
“Come on in, man,” Bryce said. “You must be tired.”
The office was neat and orderly despite its remote location. Bryce was a stickler for organization. A man with secrets had to be organized to remember them all.
Bryce sat in a huge chair, then lit a blunt.
“I’m in some deep shit, bruh. Some real deep shit.”
“So, what’s new?” Malik replied.
Bryce extended the blunt to Malik, but Malik waved him away.
“I figured it must be serious. I’ve never seen you run from a jealous husband.”
Bryce shook his head. “I wish that was all it was. I think it’s got something to do with my job.”
Malik sat up. “What did you do, Bryce?”
“I was working late and came across something that was interesting. I downloaded it.”
Malik was puzzled. “You work for a mom-and-pop lab. The worst they can do is fire you.”
Bryce laughed. “They couldn’t even do that. I’m the brains of that place. Fire me and you might as well lock the doors. But we do work for some heavy hitters. I think I might have taken something from one of them and they ain’t happy about it.”
“What happened, Bryce?”
“I was on my way home and got jumped by some weird shit.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Bryce took another toke. “It means just that. I don’t know if they were men or dogs or what. All I know is they were strong as hell and trying to kill me.”
Malik scratched his head. “This has something to do with genetics.”
“Look, Malik, I figured you could look ’em up, then threaten them to leave me alone.”
Malik cursed the day he let Bryce know his profession.
“It doesn’t work that way, Bryce. I can’t just terrify folks just because you’re in trouble.”
Bryce seemed distracted.
“Shit, I need something to drink. Clarence!”
Malik assumed that was his cousin’s name.
“Look, Bryce, I …”
Bryce stood up then stormed by Malik. He was pissed, no doubt about it.
He pushed the door open then turned to face Malik.
“Why you come here? Huh, Malik? You come all this way to tell me you can’t help me?”
Malik walked outside.
“Look, man. I’m…”
He saw Bryce’s cousin lying behind him in a pool of blood.
“Bryce, get back!”
“The fuck you talking about, fool?”
Bryce’s head exploded into flesh and bones. Malik was running into the building when something hot streaked across his forehead and threw him inside. He hit the ground hard on his back, slamming his head into the floor. His world was heat and stars just before he passed out.
When he finally came back to the world, his head throbbed, light flashing in his head with each pulse. He couldn’t move; his eyes were open but he could not see. He didn’t know how long he lay there until his sight returned. The building was black except for a faint beam of light entering through an open window. He moved his head and pain flashed, but he was determined to move. He slid his hands to his sides, then pushed himself upright, his eyes clenched to the pain. He touched his head; the wound had stopped bleeding, the blood caked over the crease.
Malik grabbed the door, then stood. Bryce lay before him, his head destroyed.
Malik opened the door, then stumbled to the nearby building. He needed a weapon, something to defend himself. He opened the door, revealing stacks of weed. He searched it from corner to corner but found nothing. From there he went to the next building, searching it as well as he could. He paused, sitting hard as his head spun, making him nauseous. He was about to continue his search when he heard voices.
“Make sure they’re dead!” the voice said. “Every last one of them.”
He had to escape. If he killed any of these men, whoever sent them would know the job was not complete. He eased to the ground, then crawled across the grass into the nearby foliage. Malik continued to crawl deeper, flinching every time he heard a shot. They were shooting everyone again to make sure the job was complete.
“Burn it,” he heard someone say.
Malik continued to crawl away. The sound of crashing wood was replaced by the roar of a huge fire. As he reached the top of the wooded hill, he dared to look back. The entire compound was in flames. Malik took a hard look at every person involved. He wanted to remember every face so there would be no doubt in his mind when he hunted them down and killed them. One man stood out, tall with sickly white skin, gray eyes, and red hair. Malik couldn’t be sure, but it looked as if his hands glowed.
Malik faded into the brush. He had to find out what the hell Bryce had done to bring a high-level hit down on him. This wasn’t underworld; this had the precision of a military operation. The only way he could find out more would be to reopen old contacts. He’d be reneging on a promise, but he had no choice.
“Damn you, Bryce,” he whispered. “Damn you!”
We hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Milton's story. Don't miss this and more exciting tales from the upcoming Spyfunk! Anthology. Preorder your paperback today!